The Navy is investigating the crash.
The C2-A Greyhound cargo plane with 11 people aboard crashed while conducting a routine transport flight from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the Navy said. Eight sailors were rescued and taken to the carrier. The Navy’s Japan-based 7th Fleet said they were in good condition.
Eight U.S. Navy and Japanese military ships along with helicopters and patrol aircraft covered nearly 1,000 square nautical miles in the two-day search for the missing sailors, without avail.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our lost shipmates and their families,” said Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, the commander of Task Force 70, in a statement. “As difficult as this is, we are thankful for the rapid and effective response that led to the rescue of eight of our shipmates, and I appreciate the professionalism and dedication shown by all who participated in the search efforts.”
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The 7th Fleet said the names of the three missing sailors were being withheld until their families have been informed. The Navy is investigating the crash.
The crash occurred about 500 miles southeast of Okinawa at 2:45 p.m. Wednesday Japan time, the Navy said.
President Trump tweeted after the crash: “The @USNavy is conducting search and rescue following aircraft crash. We are monitoring the situation. Prayers for all involved.”
The Ronald Reagan is participating in Annual Exercise 2017, a joint training program wrapping up Sunday between the U.S. Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.
A mad-dash rescue effort off the coast of Japan is underway, after a US Navy plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean.
The 7th Fleet has had two fatal accidents in Asian waters this year, leaving 17 sailors dead and leading to the removal of eight Navy officers from their posts, including the 7th Fleet commander.
The USS John S. McCain and an oil tanker collided near Singapore in August, leaving 10 U.S. sailors dead. Seven sailors died in June when the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship collided off Japan.
The Navy concluded that the collisions were avoidable and resulted from widespread failures by the crews and commanders, who didn’t quickly recognize and respond to unfolding emergencies.
A Navy report recommended numerous changes to address the problems, including improved training to increasing sleep and stress management for sailors.
Contributing: John Bacon, The Associated Press